Is the NHL Losing All of its Talent?

As the chaotic first three or four days passed in free-agency, I thought to myself: “It sure seems like a lot more players are choosing to play overseas than ever before.” This is, in fact, the case, but how much talent are we really losing?

Ten players from the 2007-2008 season have decided to pack up and leave the National Hockey League altogether. Of those 10, only two spent significant time in the NHL last season. They are Josef Vasicek, formerly of the New York Islanders, and Jaromir Jagr, formerly of the New York Rangers.

Jaromir Jagr
Jaromir Jagr
Josef Vasicek
Josef Vasicek

Vasicek, who turns 28 this September, could easily be back in the league in a few years. He is still young and has put up numbers worthy of a long stint in the NHL.

A Center, Vasicek totaled 16 goals and 19 assists for the Islanders in ’07 – ’08 (Yahoo). For his NHL career, Vasicek played in a total of 460 games, most of which came in Carolina where he was a part of its Stanley Cup winning team in 2006. His career point total is 183 (77 G, 106 A).

As for Jagr, we all know what the NHL is losing with his departure. He was one of the best right wingers to play the game. His career stats read 646 goals and 953 assists for a total of 1,599 points in 1,273 games played.

In ’07 – ’08, Jagr had his worst offensive season since playing only 31 games in his first year as a Ranger. He totaled 71 points (25 G, 46 A). Nevertheless, he was still an impact player and was a capable captain for his team.

Other than Vasicek and Jagr, though, there is not much to be desired. The remaining eight combined for 35 games played in the NHL last year. Actually, three of those remaining are responsible for the 35 games in the ‘Big Show.’

If the math is getting to you, I understand. It’s getting to me too. Here is a list of the eight other players who have signed with teams overseas and their stats from ’07 – ’08.

Big ups to (Faceoff-Factor) for aiding my research greatly. Also, all stats courtesy of (Hockey DB).

Adam Taylor (RW) – Formerly with the Florida Panthers

2007-2008: 51 GP – 1 G – 1 A – 2 Pts. With the Rochester Americans (AHL)
2007-2008: 17 GP – 2 G – 6 A – 8 Pts. With the Florida Everblades (AHL)

Jamie Hunt (D) – Formerly with the Washington Capitals

2007-2008: 60 GP – 4 G – 9 A – 13 Pts. – 30 PIM With the Hershey Bears (AHL)

Jean-Guy Trudel (LW) – Formerly with the St. Louis Blues

2007-2008: 78 GP – 23 G – 44 A – 67 Pts. With the Peoria Rivermen (AHL)

Stefan Ruzicka (RW) – Formerly with the Philadelphia Flyers

2007-2008: 59 GP – 19 G – 31 A – 50 Pts. – 105 PIM With the Philadelphia Phantoms (AHL)
2007-2008: 14 GP – 1 G – 3 A – 4 Pts. – 27 PIM With the Philadelphia Flyers (NHL)

Marcel Hossa (LW) – Formerly with the Phoenix Coyotes

2007-2008: 5 GP – 1 G – 0 A – 1 Pt. With the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL)
2007-2008: 14 GP – 0 G – 0 A – 0 Pts. With the Phoenix Coyotes (NHL)

Matt Ellison (C) – Formerly with the Nashville Predators

2007-2008: 75 GP – 26 G – 32 A – 58 Pts. With the Milwaukee Admirals (AHL)

Serge Payer (C) – Formerly with the Minnesota Wild

2007-2008: 66 GP – 11 G – 20 A – 31 Pts. With the Houston Aeros (AHL)

Kyle Wanvig (RW) – Formerly with the Tampa Bay Lightning

2007-2008: 7 GP – 1 G – 0 A – 1 Pt. With the Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL)
2007-2008: 62 GP – 23 G – 33 A – 56 Pts – 110 PIM With the Norfolk Admirals (AHL)

The majority of these guys haven’t really proven anything other than they have potential for talent. Payer, Ellison, Trudel and Wanvig probably had the best shot at time in the NHL next season, and by just looking at their stats its obvious why. However, their chances were 50-50 or less, which is probably why they went overseas. Also, most of the salaries they received are tax-free.

Of all 10 that left six went to the KHL, which from my understanding is an expansion of the Russian Super League. It is supposed to turn in to a European Super League, expanding to over 20 teams. The real draw for players seems to be the inflated wage cap. The KHL has a maximum paycheck of $22.5 million for a single player.

Nevertheless, from researching this I have discovered that the NHL is losing possible future stars. But at this point, there are not enough players leaving to cause too large of concern.

*Update 7/9/08 @ 9:30 p.m. – Ray Emery signs in KHL

Ray Emery (G) – Formerly with the Ottawa Senators

2007-2008: 31 GP – 12 W – 13 L – 4 OTL – 3.13 GAA – .890 SV% With the Ottawa Senators (NHL)
2007-2008: 2 GP – 1 W – 1 L – 0 OTL – 3.00 GAA – .930 SV% With the Binghamton Senators (AHL)

*Update #2 7/10/08 @ 4 p.m. – Bryce Lampman and Jordan Parise leave NHL. Lampman signs with Khabarovsk (KHL) and Parise signs with Salzburg (EBEL).

Bryce Lampman (D) – Formerly with the Dallas Stars

2007-2008: 16 GP – 3 G – 3 A – 6 Pts. With the Norfolk Admirals (AHL)
2007-2008: 53 GP – 4 G – 11 A – 15 Pts. With the Iowa Stars (AHL)

Jordan Parise (G) – Formerly with the New Jersey Devils

2007-2008: 18 GP – 4 W – 12 L – 1 OTL – 3.55 GAA – .889 SV% With the Lowell Devils (AHL)

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One thought on “Is the NHL Losing All of its Talent?

  1. Pingback: NHL and Russian League End Differences « Pittsburgh Puck Talk

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